Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh The Things We Can Do With Computers!

Iran has an embarrassing problem which illustrates what we can do with computers today.  If you were to ask, even a few years ago, what we had to do to take out Iran's nuclear capabilities, you would probabley be told what Senator McCain suggested: "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran"

However, it appears no bombing may be necessary.  It turns out Iran's computers at their nuclear sites have been strategically infected with a computer worm they can't figure out how to remove.  Of course, just a couple weeks ago President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assured the word they quickly discovered the worm and took care of it.  However, the above article suggests this is not the case.

This has caused me to marvel what we can accomplish with computers these days.   We appear to live in a world where you can take out your enemy from the comfort of your own home. :)

Some choice quotes from the article:

1.  A little about the worm itself.
The Stuxnet worm... is the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever created... It was a cybermissile designed to penetrate advanced security systems. It was equipped with a warhead that targeted and took over the controls of the centrifuge systems at Iran’s uranium processing center... and it had a second warhead that targeted the massive turbine at the nuclear reactor in Bashehr.
2.  My favorite quote of all:
“The Iranians don’t have the depth of knowledge to handle the worm or understand its complexity,” ... raising the possibility that they may never succeed in eliminating it.
3.  And finally, what may be Iran's best case scenario?:
They are completely dependent on outside companies for the construction and maintenance of their nuclear facilities. They should throw out their computers as well. But they can’t...
“With the best of expertise and equipment it would take another year for the plants to function normally again
Well, good luck Iran.  But the good news for you is if this is successful enough you may avoid McCain's plan B.  :)


  1. These things are multi-edged swords. It only points to our vulnerabilities as well.

  2. Ancient1, your right it is a two edge sword. For example, many in the US government don't like Wikileaks and have had trouble stopping them.

    Also, sorry if I was too hard on Iran (As this can happen to anyone). I just thought it was clever to use computers to ruin their nuclear facilities. (And sort of funny.)

  3. It makes me wonder if we will see our national cyber defense be consolidated under one organization. Right now it is spread out over many different organizations, the military, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the department of Homeland Security, and I wonder if there will be enough of a push to centralize it and put it under one organization. I doubt DHS will get it, at least with out a significant overhaul of the organization. But I also do not think that the push will come until there is a credible and sustained attack on US cyber presence. When that happens we will most likely have a department of cyber security (probably the NSA).

  4. JS,

    I don't much care for the islamic regime in Iran. The edge of the sword I worry the most about is that most developing countries (emerging markets) will be very apprehensive of buying machines of that they do not understand the control and behaviors. It will also build capabilities that can harm us in future.

    Nuclear Iran does not really bother me that much. Why? Nuclear weapons of mass destruction is the pinnacle of the war follies. So far, no country has used nuclear weapons except us in WWII, the first one, was justified; though the target could be different, second one was experiment on people, and not necessary.


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